Spiralling diesel prices may fuel truckers’ strike
From Rs 45.73 per litre in 2012, the price of diesel is currently hovering around Rs 70 per litre.
Anguished over the spiralling diesel cost, truck operators incurring heavy losses are thinking of going on strike demanding that the Central and State taxes be slashed in order to bring down the fuel price. Small-scale operators, owning up to five vehicles, bear the brunt of the spike in fuel cost as they find it difficult to run the vehicles profitably. From Rs 45.73 per litre in 2012, the price of diesel is currently hovering around Rs 70 per litre.“The increasing cost of diesel is taking a heavy toll on truck operators. We are not able to profitably run the vehicles,” G R Shanmugappa, general secretary, South Indian Motor Transporters Association (SIMTA), told Express on Friday.
The fleet owners in the southern region will have a detailed discussion on the impact of the fuel cost at the executive committee meeting of SIMTA to be held in Puducherry on May 9.“We are going to elicit the views of all our members and chalk out a future course of action for launching an intense stir,” said Shanmugappa. The unbridled fuel price hike may render the profession economically unviable to thousands of small-scale operators.
“Largescale fleet operators can endure the stress in the road transport sector, but small-scale operators are feeling the heat,” noted R Sukumar, president, Tamil Nadu Lorry Owners Association (TNLOA).
Frowning upon the Centre and states’ disinclination to effect a cut in their taxes on the fuel, he said, “We are assessing the situation and weighing all options to go for a strike in order to protect the sector from the current crisis.”
All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) core committee chairman Bal Malkit Singh wanted the government to rationalise the mechanism to determine the fuel price. Speaking to Express, he said, “The government should reduce the excise duty so that the burden on consumers can be eased. The rate of fuel must be determined on a quarterly basis.”Suggesting a uniform pricing mechanism across the country, Singh, the former president of AIMTC, noted that the ambit of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) would bring the petroleum products under a rational tax regime.
The AIMTC has convened an emergency meeting of its executive committee for May 17 to discuss the issue and take a call on resorting to strike.The rate of central excise on diesel stands at 15.33 per cent, while the state’s tax ranges from 10 to 25 per cent, according to industry sources. Meanwhile, the All India Confederation of Goods Vehicle’s Owners Association (ACOGOA) has threatened to withdraw services from June 18 if the Centre failed to heed the demands of the operators.
The association shot off memorandums recently to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ministers Nitin Gadkari (Road Transport and Highways), Arun Jaitley (Finance) and Dharmendra Pradan (Petroleum), listing their demands.“Our major demand is to bring down the price of diesel. If the government fails to act before June 18, we will begin an indefinite strike from then on,” Rajinder Singh, general secretary, All India Confederation of Goods Vehicle’s Owners Association, said. The hike in third party premium too is also affecting the goods carrier sector.